AMID all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about Manchester City being granted an emergency loan signing to solve their goalkeeping crisis, one thing has been largely overlooked.
Marton Fulop, the man they’ve hired to bring the big-match experience they feel their fourth-choice stopper lacks, still represents a big risk as the season reaches its decisive final few games.
Sure, Hungary international Fulop has more Premier League minutes than Gunnar Nielsen, but he hasn’t been in regular action recently. His last top-flight appearance was more than three months ago and on that occasion he shipped seven goals as Sunderland were drubbed by Chelsea.
Also, it is one thing playing for Sunderland in mid-table games, and quite another to be thrown into the heat of battle at the top of the division. Roberto Mancini’s team are in the hunt for that all-important final Champions League place, and the pressure will be intense in their final three games of the season.
Relationships between goalkeepers and their back four are so important, and asking Fulop to forge an immediate understanding with City’s defence is expecting an awful lot. Centre-backs become so used to when their regular keeper is going to come for a ball or when he is going to stay that the relationship is almost telepathic. Fulop and the Eastlands rearguard simply won’t have that.
What’s more, in that respect the discarded Nielsen looks like a better bet – at least he knew his team-mates for more than a couple of days before Shay Given’s injury thrust him into the spotlight. It all leaves City looking vulnerable at the most crucial of times.
As to whether City are entitled to a loan, as long as the Premier League apply the same rules consistently then it is reasonable. You could argue that City brought it on themselves – after all, they didn’t have to send Joe Hart on loan to Birmingham. But as an England fan, I am glad he has been out getting games rather than sitting on his hands.